KANO, Nigeria — A thirteen-year-old Nigerian girl says that her father gave her up to the Islamic group Boko Haram, and was consequently threatened with death by the group if she did not become a suicide bomber.
“My father took us to the bush, which was surrounded by gunmen,” Zarau Babangida told reporters during a news conference held by police on Wednesday. “I was asked if I wanted to go to heaven, when I answered, they said I have to go for a suicide mission and if I attempted to run they would kill me.”
She and other girls were then sent to Kano on Dec. 10, and Babangida allowed herself to be dressed with explosive devices.
“I was afraid to be buried alive,” she said, noting that she had seen Boko Haram do so to others.
One of the girls suggested that they take turns detonating the devices, but the teen refused to go through with the act.
“When it was time for the execution, the two other girls took their position,” Babangida recalled. “We all had the bombs concealed in our dresses because we were wearing hijab.”
So, Babangida’s friend and another girl set off the explosives by themselves near a textile market, killing four and injuring seven. Babangida was among those injured in the blast.
“Due to the injury, I shouted for help,” she explained. “The commercial tricycle operator, who sympathized with me, took me to Dawanau, where I resided with my parents.”
However, after the operator noted that Babangida had left her suicide vest on the seat, he contacted the authorities.
“The tricycle operator returned to confirm that I was the one carrying the bomb and he alerted security agents,” she said. “I was arrested at the hospital where I was being treated.”
The girl will remain in police custody while an investigation continues into the matter. Reports state that there have been a string of suicide bombings in recent months that have been carried out by women and young Nigerian girls. The incidents are stirring concerns that perhaps Boko Haram is using the kidnapped school girls to carry out suicide missions.
As previously reported, members of Boko Haram stormed an all-girls secondary school in Chibok, Borno State in April, kidnapping 276 students while they were taking their final exams. Over 50 girls later escaped, but more than 200 have remained missing.
“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” the group’s leader, Abubaker Shekau, stated in a video released in May. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. … They are his property and I will carry out his instructions.”
While reports in October stated that a deal had been reached between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram surrounding the release of the girls, the purported development has not yet occurred. Boko Haram, which being translated means “Western education is sinful,” seeks to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria and has carried out attacks in the region to accomplish its purposes for years.